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Dahl v State

5-15-2007 Delaware:

Dahl v State
926 A.2d 1077 (2007)

Defendant-Appellant William S. Dahl appeals his Superior Court conviction of Loitering by a Sex Offender within 500 Feet of a School,1 specifically a dance academy. Dahl was convicted at a bench trial. Dahl raises three arguments on appeal.
  • First, Dahl contends that his due process rights were violated when the trial judge allowed the prosecutor to amend the indictment on the day of trial to expand by one month the date parameters of the alleged offense.
  • Second, Dahl contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for judgment of acquittal because the State failed to present sufficient evidence from which a factfinder could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he was within 500 feet of a "school."
  • Third, Dahl contends that the dance academy described at trial is not a "school" as defined in 11 Del. C. § 1112 and, therefore, his motion for judgment of acquittal should have been granted.
We do not find merit to Dahl's first and second arguments. We do find, however, that the State presented insufficient evidence at trial to prove an essential element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt; that the dance academy was a "school" as that term has been defined by the General Assembly. Because the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution and Delaware law require proof beyond a reasonable doubt of each element of an offense, we must reverse and remand with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal in this case.

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